One of the essential factors when leading a healthy lifestyle is a healthy spine. Many people overlook the benefits of a healthy spine and those who suffer from back pain are generally less healthy than those who do not. There are many problems associated with back pain, both financial and psychological, however these can be solved by taking good care of your spine. Many people suffering from long-term back pain are made to take time off work and can experience large financial losses, as well as these losses some people can suffer from the psychological problems that are associated with the healing process for long-term back pain.
Around 80-90% of the population will suffer from some form of back pain in their lifetime. People who frequently lift heavy objects, those who smoke or have had a previous episode of back pain, are more likely to experience back pain.
Due to the fact that so many people suffer from spinal pain, it is extremely important to take good care of your spine and keep it as healthy as possible. By simply following lifting, posture and healthy lifestyle guidelines, you can help to keep your spine in good shape.
Here are some spinal health tips recommended by the American Chiropractic Association:
Healthy Diet and Exercise
- People who are overweight or obese can suffer more back pain as the extra weight they carry can put unwanted pressure on the muscles, ligaments and tendons in your back.
- A healthy diet and regular exercise is the most efficient and effective way to reduce your weight.
- You should always consult with your Doctor before beginning any new exercise program.
- When you are standing, try to keep one foot slightly in front of the other, and bend your knees slightly. This position can help to relieve the pressure on your low back.
- Try to avoid bending at the waist for prolonged periods of time. Your lower back muscles can become deconditioned in this position, which often leads to pain.
- Whenever you are lifting an object, try to avoid twisting. One of the most dangerous movements for your spine is twisting, especially while lifting.
- If the item you are lifting is too heavy, pushing it is easier on your back than pulling it. Avoid using your back and upper body when pushing the item, try to use your legs.
- If you need to lift a heavy item, get somebody to help you.
- Keep your knees slightly higher than your hips, with your head up and back straight.
- Avoid rolling your shoulders forward.
- Try to maintain the natural curve in your low back.
- When lifting heavy objects, try to keep them as close to your body as possible.
- Carrying two smaller objects, one in each hand, is much easier to handle than one large object.
Reaching and Bending
- When you are reaching for an object above shoulder level, stand on a stool. If you strain to reach such objects you can not only hurt your mid-back and neck, but you can also bring on shoulder problems.
- Never bend over at the waist to pick up items from the floor. Instead kneel down on one knee and get as close as possible to the item you are lifting. Keep the other foot flat on the floor and then pick the item up.
- To stand keep the item close to your body, and lift with your legs, not your back.
- There are many positions that add extra pressure to your spine while sleeping. One of these positions is stomach-sleeping which makes it difficult to maintain a neutral position of your spine. This position puts pressure on joints and muscles, which can irritate nerves and lead to pain, numbness, and tingling.
- Try placing a pillow in between your legs when sleeping on your side, this can help to reduce the pressure on your spine.
- Never sleep in a position that hurts your spine. More often than not, your body will tell you which position is best.
Give Up Smoking
Smokers suffer from more back pain than non-smokers, and they also heal a lot more slowly when they experience an episode of back pain. This is owing to the chemicals in tobacco smoke that restrict the blood flow to the tissues in and around your spine.
There is no guarantee that these instructions will keep you free of back pain, however it will certainly help to reduce the risk of developing it. If you follow these simple steps you will experience the benefits of a healthier spine. Just give us a call and see what our Chiropractic team can do for you!
For Your Health,
Dr. Scott Van Dam